Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp, on Friday, announced that it will let its more than 2 billion users fully encrypt the backups of their messages.
The Facebook-owned service has end-to-end encrypted chats between users for more than a decade. But users have had no option but to store their chat backup to their cloud – iCloud on iPhones and Google Drive on Android – in an unencrypted format.
According to The Verge, the plan, which WhatsApp has detailed in a white paper before rolling out to users on iOS and Android in the coming weeks, is meant to secure the backups WhatsApp users already send to either Google Drive or Apple's iCloud, making them unreadable without an encryption key.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement, “WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge that required an entirely new framework for key storage and cloud storage across operating systems.”
🎉 WhatsApp is the leading global messaging service to offer *both* end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups on iCloud or Google Drive. 🎉
So you can make sure that bestie’s voice messages and mum’s secret recipe will be safely stored in a place only you can access.
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) September 10, 2021
The company said it has devised a system to enable WhatsApp users on Android and iOS to lock their chat backups with encryption keys. WhatsApp says it will offer users two ways to encrypt their cloud backups, and the feature is optional.
In the “coming weeks,” users on WhatsApp will see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key to lock their chat backups in the cloud. According to Techcrunch, users can store the encryption key offline or in a password manager of their choice, or they can create a password that backs up their encryption key in a cloud-based “backup key vault” that WhatsApp has developed. The cloud-stored encryption key can’t be used without the user’s password, which isn’t known by WhatsApp.